Carlos Alcaraz won his first career grass-court title and will return to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings ahead of the start of Wimbledon July 3.
The top seed defeated gritty Australian Alex de Minaur 6-4, 6-4 to lift the trophy at Queen’s Club. On Monday, the Spaniard will pass 23-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic for world No. 1.
Even though Djokovic has won the last four Wimbledons and the last two majors, Alcaraz will be the first non-”Big 4” No. 1 seed there since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003.
“It means a lot to me. Being able to win this amazing tournament in my first time that I played here for me is fantastic,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview. “To know that I’m [capable of] a good level on grass, obviously [to be] champion of every tournament feels special.”
Alcaraz has now won five ATP Tour titles this season, tying Daniil Medvedev for the Tour lead. Entering the week, he owned just a 4-2 record on grass. But after needing a final-set tie-break to escape Arthur Rinderkncech in his opening match, the 20-year-old surged to the title without losing a set the rest of the week.
The final was a modern-day grass-court showdown. Instead of the classic serve-and-volleying and constant net rushes every point, Alcaraz and De Minaur battled hard from the baseline, running each other from corner to corner with the ATP 500 trophy on the line, only moving forward to close out points. But when they did venture into the forecourt, both players showed sensational feel.
The pair’s only previous clash came in last year’s Barcelona semifinals, which Alcaraz won after three hours and 40 minutes despite needing to save two match points. This match did not last nearly as long — one hour and 39 minutes — but featured plenty of high-level tennis.
The clash came down to play on break points. Alcaraz was more opportunistic, saving the two break points he faced and converting the two opportunities he earned.
The top seed claimed a break in the first set at 4-4, when De Minaur missed a running forehand long. Alcaraz had his upper right leg taped after the set, but showed no physical decline as the match wore on.
De Minaur relinquished the lone break of the second set with a double fault and that proved the only advantage Alcaraz needed. The top seed fell behind 0-30 when he served for the championship, but remained calm to finish the job and give himself confidence leading into Wimbledon
“The chances don’t change so much. I mean, Novak is coming to Wimbledon,” Alcaraz said. “Right now I’m feeling better than the beginning of the week, that’s obvious.
“Of course, recovering the No. 1 before Wimbledon, it gives you extra motivation, it gives you extra confidence coming into Wimbledon. But it doesn’t change too much if I play Wimbledon as the No. 2 or the No. 1.”